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The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy
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The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  352 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Explains what patriarchy is (and isn't), how it works, and what gets in the way of understanding and doing something about it.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 29th 2005 by Temple University Press (first published 1997)
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May 15, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it
I was a little skeptical at first when I saw that we were reading a book about patriarchy written by a man (a white man, to say the least! Come on, Multicultural Ed class! Get out of the system!). After reading it, though, I think that Johnson actually brought a lot of his experiences as a man to bear in ways that showed how patriarchy operates as a system, not as just individuals who need to feel guilty and be re-educated. His primary point is that both men and women find themselves in a social ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Mikhail rated it it was amazing
This took a while for me to get through, but I'm glad I did. It is an eye-opening, awareness-inducing book, and has made me interested in reading more feminist literature.
Dec 01, 2012 Will rated it it was amazing
The best book on feminism for men that I have ever read. Johnson's depth of understanding and clear prose are wonderful, but the GK might not be the easiest introduction to the topic for the beginner (bell hook's Feminism is for Everybody might be better for that). Johnson's elucidation of patriarchy as a system and the responsibility of individual men within that system is particularly valuable. A truly wonderful book.
Nov 12, 2009 Myth rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book gave me a lot of information to chew on and think over. I've been kind of aware of gender issues in the past. I've had classes on it and the like. I suppose this was just another reminder.

Before I get into my personal opinion on the book I want to get the technical out of the way.

Clearly and well written. There was a lot of repetition, sometimes to the point that I thought he must be copy and pasting... I don't really like that, but it seems to be common in informational books, partic
Jul 31, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished this a couple of months ago, but for some reason I now feel compelled to actually write something about it.

It's interesting, for sure.

But there's this vague implication that as long as our society is based on control and power, it will always be a patriarchy, and this notion makes me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that this idea strikes me as buying into patriarchy, a little bit. (I mean, I guess everyone does buy into the patriarchy at least a little bit, and that's basica
Jun 19, 2007 Alison rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the entire human race
this is the clearest book I've read on gender. It is explained sociologically and encompasses everything, everything that we are dealing with right now. This book gave me the ability to really talk to people who knock feminism as if though there is not relevance right now for feminist thought. What this book made me realize is that those dismissive comments come from a very calculated place that most people don't even realize is outside of them.
Logan Lovelace
Jan 18, 2014 Logan Lovelace rated it it was amazing
Very interesting ideas on patriarchy. This book changed the way I viewed a lot of things in our society.
Aug 10, 2007 erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
good primer for boys. :)
Sep 30, 2016 Ivan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting view of the past state of affairs in the area of the American academic feminism, that is, if you can get past the first chapter full of unsourced generalizations. The author refutes the unfounded hypotheses about the male environment and male upbringing in the past of several prominent researchers of that period - late 80ies early 90ies and laments the lack of understanding and acceptance of the idea of the 'patriarchy' from the establishment. The book itself is a detailed documen ...more
Oct 25, 2014 Virginia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Allan Johnson navigates the treacherous waters of gender politics in our culture with skill and sensitivity in "The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy." Johnson's premise -- that the "patriarchy" is not so much about benefiting all men at the expense of all women as it is about a culture of control -- is mind-expanding and crucial if we are to move forward as a society, and as a species, toward a sustainable, joyful way of living together on this planet.

As Johnson points out, men an
Jun 30, 2013 Ahmie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gender studies students
Recommended to Ahmie by: gender studies professor
Shelves: read-for-class
A book on patriarchy written by a man... there were times when reading this I felt like he didn't totally get it, and that he wasn't separating out the value add-ons he got from also being white and higher-than-working class and heterosexual. Johnson touches on these things, but then at other points of the book I found myself doing repeated facepalms when he just completely missed how his own viewpoint was furthering those disparities. The book was assigned reading for a graduate level Sociology ...more
May 15, 2013 Cathy rated it really liked it
An in-depth, but sometimes repetitive, exposition of the system of patriarchy and its consequences. I give this book top marks for a balanced look at the situation we find ourselves in with respect to patriarchy and male privilege. However, the author takes liberal feminism to task for not addressing the fundamental nature of the problem without offering any real alternatives.
Shawna Faith
Nov 11, 2013 Shawna Faith rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. Allan Johnson does such a great job of describing patriarchy and the hold it has on our society. He explains why studying feminism is crucial to the achievement of gender equality. This book blames no one, and rather gives us all ways to change the system of patriarchy that we have all bought into in some shape or size.
Shawna Foster
Oct 14, 2009 Shawna Foster rated it it was amazing
Although I initially did not ready this book because it was written by a man, I am extremely glad I did. I facilitated a course based on this book and it was excellent. Every patriarchal-denier argument is addressed in this book. It truly made me think about my relations with others and I'd encourage everyone to read it. Essential reading.
Aug 06, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing
Best construct of gender I've read- and woo-hoo written by a white male. I saw this scrotom toter speak in october of 2006 at a university supported social justice symposium in Duluth. His live presentation is so similar to what he conveys in his text. Radically honest look at his own white life and our society.
Bob Prophet
Feb 16, 2009 Bob Prophet rated it really liked it
Excellent book, especially for men curious to learn about their passive, complicit role in perpetuating gender inequalities.

My guyfriend loved this book, though my father thought it too "common sense" and elementary. I personally found it to be very accurate and fair, and since it was written by a man it doesn't smack with the typical mainstream feminist bravado.

Highly recommended!
Jaime Boswell
Jan 17, 2008 Jaime Boswell rated it really liked it
I really like his thoughts on Masculinity... an interesting perspective and from a man for once! I'd recommend this book to anyone who is willing to challenge the gender dichotomy and investigate the realities society has created within themselves.
Apr 05, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing
This book is both a primer and advanced text on the impact of patriarchy on gender, individuals, and society.

It explains how patriarchy is a social concept that negatively impacts all genders.

A basic MUST for those wanting to be better educated about societal sexism.
Phillip Rhoades
Sep 10, 2012 Phillip Rhoades rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great book on the concept and realities of patriarchy. It would be a five star book if it didn't suffer from repetitive content. Johnson does an excellent job of exposing the basic yet overwhelming themes of a system that defines almost every aspect of our modern society.
Carol Merritt
Apr 22, 2016 Carol Merritt rated it it was amazing
A broad and solid intro to patriarchy. We are using it in the Doctor of Ministry course that I'm co-teaching. I appreciate Johnson's understanding of patriarchy as a system and the practical advice on how to unravel.
Abby Covington
Apr 10, 2016 Abby Covington rated it really liked it
Solid introduction to the patriarchy and sexism. Wish I had more time to study it, but it's my friend's textbook so I kinda need to give it back.
Aug 15, 2007 Brynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most influential book I've read about feminism and gender, read during my senior year of high school. All the more important because it was written by a man.
Jan 29, 2017 Asma rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening, life-changing
Apr 26, 2008 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college
From an enlightened male point of view in support of feminism, the author breaks down the system of patriarchy in even ways men may respond to. A must read for any modern woman and her modern men!
Jan 16, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
A great overview of patriarchy... A good book for the beginner to gender studies...
Sep 23, 2011 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fan-freakin-tastic. I love the way he breaks down the patriarchal construct and offers simple solutions to demolish it!
Dec 27, 2014 Jana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A hard read but it changed my life and my view of the world in a profound way.
Holly Wood
Apr 25, 2014 Holly Wood rated it it was amazing
The approachable, sympathetic book I would recommend to anybody wanting to understand what Feminism is and isn't.
Feb 24, 2015 Krestan rated it it was amazing
Read a selection of it for my WGSS 101 class and wow, I'm impressed. Some of the details really were astonishing to me and opened my eyes to a new way of viewing what I thought I already knew
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Allan G. Johnson is a novelist, nonfiction writer, sociologist, teacher, and public speaker who has spent much of his life trying to understand the human condition, especially as shaped by issues of gender, race, and social class. His nonfiction books have been translated into several languages, and his first novel, The First Thing and the Last, was recognized in 2010 by Publishers Weekly as a not ...more
More about Allan G. Johnson...

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“It is easier to allow a few women to occupy positions of authority and dominance than to question whether social life should be organized around principles of hierarchy, control, and dominance at all, to allow a few women to reach the heights of the corporate hierarchy rather than question whether people's needs should depend on an economic system based on dominance, control, and competition. It is easier to allow women to practice law than to question adversarial conflict as a model for resolving disputes and achieving justice. It has even been easier to admit women to military combat roles than to question the acceptability of warfare and its attendant images of patriarchal masculine power and heroism as instruments of national policy. And it has been easier to elevate and applaud a few women than to confront the cultural misogyny that is never far off, waiting in the wings and available for anyone who wants to use it to bring women down and put them in their place.” 5 likes
“The public response to feminism has been ferociously defensive precisely because feminism touches such a deep nerve of truth and the denial that keeps us from it. If feminism were truly ridiculous, it would be ignored. But it isn't ridiculous, and so provokes a vigorous backlash.” 4 likes
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